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A Short Analysis of William Blake’s ‘The Clod and the Pebble’

A close reading of Blake’s classic poem

‘The Clod and the Pebble’ is a William Blake poem that first appeared in his 1794 volume Songs of Experience, the companion-piece to his 1789 collection Songs of Innocence. The poem stages a conversation between a clod of clay and a pebble to make a point about the nature of love. Before we proceed to an analysis of ‘The Clod and the Pebble’, here’s a reminder of the poem.

The Clod and the Pebble

‘Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.’

So sung a little Clod of Clay
Trodden with the cattle’s feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet: Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of Wordsworth’s ‘She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways’

A commentary on one of Wordsworth’s ‘Lucy’ poems

‘She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways’ is one of William Wordsworth’s ‘Lucy’ poems, which he first published in the 1800 reprint of his landmark volume Lyrical Ballads (co-authored with Samuel Taylor Coleridge). In three quatrains, Wordsworth summarises the life, beauty, and death of Lucy, a ‘Maid’ who lived and died among Wordsworth’s beloved Lake District. Before we offer a few words of analysis of this poem, here’s a reminder of it.

She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love:

A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
—Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!

For the critic Geoffrey Durrant, the three stanzas of ‘She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways’ represent ‘Lucy’s growth, perfection, and death’. Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’

A reading of a classic unfinished poem

‘Kubla Khan’ is perhaps the most famous unfinished poem in all of English literature. But why the poem remained unfinished, and how Samuel Taylor Coleridge came to write it in the first place, are issues plagued by misconception and misunderstanding. How should we analyse this classic poem by one of the pioneers of English Romanticism?

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover! Read the rest of this entry